Ex-New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was forced out of office by a scandal, announced his run for mayor of New York City in the Democratic primary early Wednesday morning.
“Look, I’ve made some big mistakes and I know I’ve let a lot of people down,” Weiner said in a two-minute YouTube video released early Wednesday morning. “But I’ve also learned some tough lessons. I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it for my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”
His presence in the race is expected to be most harmful to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who was the only current candidate without a minority or gender base, and is relying on appeal to outer borough voters. De Blasio represented part of Brooklyn in the City Council for two terms and still lives there.
“It really cuts into Bill’s geographic, outer borough base, even though Anthony Weiner is now a member of the Manhattan upper class,” said Baruch College Political Science Professor Douglas Muzzio. “He gave up his Brooklyn roots, even though he shot the video in Brooklyn.”
The video shows Weiner outside his childhood home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He later lived in Forest Hills, Queens, before moving to Gramercy Park with his wife after leaving Congress. He has been working as a consultant for major corporations.
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Weiner, as of Wednesday morning, did not respond to questions from The Jewish Week sent to him by email.
The veteran Democratic lawmaker resigned from Congress in June 2011 after mistakenly sending an illicit photo of himself to all his Twitter followers, rather than to the 21-year-old college student it was intended for. He initially lied to the press by saying his Twitter account had been hacked, while refusing to deny that he had taken the photo of himself. He ultimately confessed and resigned under pressure from fellow Democrats, including President Barack Obama.
Releasing his statement by video allowed Weiner to avoid scenes like that of his resignation press conference at a Brooklyn senior center, at which hecklers called him a “pervert” and shouted lewd questions.
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, appears in the video, as does their young son, Jordan, who was born several months after the scandal broke.
Weiner’s comeback bid is a longshot because of the scandal, Muzzio said, but it increases the chances of a runoff. And regardless of the outcome of the primary, the campaign is a victory for the humiliated pol.
“In one sense he’s won already, by thrusting himself into the middle of a campaign, and whatever ego needs he has are being fulfilled,” Muzzio said. “There may be another race down the road, and this is part of his redemption tour.”
Weiner, 48, ran for mayor in 2005 and came in second place in a crowded Democratic primary. He earned respect from his party for bowing out of a runoff with the frontrunner, Fernando Ferrer, and endorsing Ferrer against incumbent Michael Bloomberg.
He again faces a crowded field, but still has millions in his political war chest from before his resignation, when he was considered a front-runner to replace Bloomberg, who has exhausted his allowed three terms. With matching funds, he is expected to have $5 million to spend.
The New York Observer reported Wednesday that Weiner had hired Barbara Morgan, a former spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, to handle his press and Lisa Hernandez Gioia as his finance director.
Perhaps the biggest danger Weiner faces is the likelihood that late night comedy shows and the Howard Stern program on Sirius Radio will continue to mock him, preventing his ideas from being taken seriously. It was a Stern show staffer who infiltrated Weiner’s resignation event and shouted lewd questions.
“[Video] protects him from personal contact and awkward demonstrations, signs and street theater,” Muzzio said. “But you’ve got to eventually campaign on the street.”